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The house that Bush built is no house at all. Just ask the folks at Bushville.

Nearly 100 poor and homeless people from around the country have come, along with a handful of college-age volunteers, to protest the economic policies of the current administration. Tattered couches and hand-made signs are scattered beneath bright blue tarps on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, the site of this week’s gathering.

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) has brought its mobile tent city, dubbed Bushville, to New York in anticipation of a march on the first day of the Republican National Convention. They plan to lead a group from the front of the United Nations to Madison Square Garden, despite having been denied a permit to do so.

Cheri Honkala, founder of the campaign, is preparing those who plan to march with her for arrest. “Law enforcement here is pretty similar to everywhere else,” she said. “But now it’s after 9/11 and it’s New York City.”

Ron Cassanova, known as Cass, who heads the local chapter of the group and spent many years homeless in New York City, echoes her sentiment. “It’s gonna be heavy,” he said. “New York at this moment is the focal point of these issues of poverty that affect everyone.” Cass said the group has been greeting locals all week, who stop by to hang out and get information about the march.

“These are problems that really the majority of New Yorkers are dealing with in one way or another. But they’re not being talked about by this administration,” said Liz Theoharis, a student at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan and co-coordinator of the educational arm of the campaign, known as University of the Poor. “There’s a lot of shame involved with being poor in this country and we need to bring this out in the open to counter that.”

Honkala hopes the protest will help spark a movement to demand better access to housing, food, and health care. “Wages are down, more people are going to soup kitchens. The only thing poor people across the U.S. have is each other.” [8/30]

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